Algae Bloom Threat Being Monitored Closely

Posted: June 8, 2018, 7:00 am

The City of Salem’s incident of water contamination from algae on the Santiam River beginning two weeks ago has not gone unnoticed by Canby Utility. When the incident in Salem came to light, in an abundance of caution Canby Utility’s water treatment partner Veolia North America immediately pulled water samples for toxic algae testing on June 1. Test results were received back by the utility June 6 and confirmed that Canby’s water is clear of any algae toxins.

As summer nears and the river gets near its low level for the year, higher temperatures and lack of rainfall can combine to create a perfect environment for Algae to proliferate on the Molalla River and other area surface water resources. According to Canby Utility General Manager Dan Murphy, the Canby Utility Board has made it a top priority to monitor the water both coming into the water treatment plant and also the usable water coming out to make sure it is safe to drink. “While we have not yet had a toxic algae contamination incident on the Molalla, we are aware of the other incidents where harmful AB has been detected upstate along the Willamette,” said Murphy. “Canby Utility will continue our voluntary testing for algae bloom toxins until the water temperatures drop out of the range that is conducive to the bloom. We want our public to rest assured that we are being vigilant to make sure our water continues to be safe to drink.”

Murphy said that the utility is also aware of comments recently placed on social media claiming some people have begun sensing an “earthy” taste in Canby Utility’s treated drinking water. “The water samples we pulled for testing on June 1 were also analyzed for detection of the harmless algae compounds that cause occasional bad taste and odor in our water,” said Murphy. “The June 1 test results came back negative for taste and odor as well,” said Murphy, “so we have no evidence to confirm that Canby Utility water is experiencing taste or odor issues at this time.”

Regarding the possibility of occurrences of bad taste and odor in Canby Utility’s drinking water this summer, Murphy said that while the test confirms the absence of any taste or odor compounds in the water at this time, such an occurrence could happen at any time during the summer months. Canby utility did not experience this taste and odor problem last year. “All the experts are telling us that this taste and odor problem could very well just go away and not be a problem anymore for literally years if ever,” said Murphy. “It simply will depend upon summer temperatures, rainfall, and the cyclical weather conditions. When those factors line up just right, we could well see a reoccurrence of our taste and odor problem. But we want to remind everyone, that occasional "earthy" taste is harmless and the water is safe to drink.”